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October 08, 2022 10 min read

If you thought weight training is the only way to build muscles, think again. Here we will explain 10 different bodyweight exercises for beginners that are safe and simple to do anywhere, without gym equipment or free weights.

Bodyweight exercises are precisely what their name states. Instead of using kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, or other weights, strength-building exercises use your body weight to resist gravity. 

 

Bodyweight exercises for beginners include lunges, squats, deadlifts, and more.

Some of them offer full-body workouts, and along with healthy diets they almost guarantee you will lose weight.

Why should beginners start with bodyweight exercises?

Without realizing it, we perform variations of bodyweight exercises in our everyday activities and movements. Therefore, the way we move and control our bodies is important.

Mother and Baby exercise - Image from Shutterstock

 

For example, we lunge when we climb stairs, squat when we sit down, and deadlift when we pick anything up off the floor  — even if it is picking up a child, we need body control!

The fact that you perform these movements all day long does not mean you do them well.

The lack of mobility and strength has caused many back injuries, strained muscles, and more.

Learning to master these suggested bodyweight exercises for beginners will energize you, make you stronger, and move about in control of your body. It might even encourage you to join a gym and get into more than bodyweight training.

Warming up is essential before doing bodyweight exercises

Warm-up exercise for beginners – Image from Shutterstock

 

Cardio warm-ups increase blood flow, thereby increasing oxygen delivery to the muscle groups you’ll be working out. Spend 3 to 4 minutes on any of the following warm-up exercises to get your heart pumping:

  • Jump rope
  • Make some big arm circles
  • March in place
  • Do Jumping Jacks
  • Move from side to side
  • And best of all, give yourself a few butt kicks.

Try different combinations of these or other cardio routines you might favor. Focus on getting the blood flowing to all the different areas of your body by doing multi-directional and multi-joint movements.

Benefits of bodyweight exercises for beginners

The list of benefits of getting into a routine of bodyweight exercises is endless, but here are some of them.

Bodyweight exercises can relieve joint pain – Image from Shutterstock

 

  • You can do them anywhere (wearing whatever you want!)
  • Great for home workouts or traveling when you have no equipment
  • Lower injury risks for beginners
  • Relieve joint and back pain
  • Improve joint mobility and flexibility
  • Improve balance and coordination
  • Burn fat and add muscle tone
  • You can rev up the basic exercises when you're ready
  • Develop a strong foundation for other exercises and sports

The list of bodyweight exercises that follows can be done in any order. All of them are simple moves, aimed at bringing increased mobility, strength, and stability. Beginners should aim to do 2 sets of 10 to 12 reps of each exercise, with 30 seconds rest between sets.

1. PLANK

The plank is an isometric core strength exercise that involves maintaining a position similar to a push-up for the maximum possible time.

 

Inchworm Beginners Bodyweight Exercise – Image from Shutterstock

It forms the basis of many other exercises.

Here’s how to do a plank:

  • Lie face-down on the floor, resting on your forearms with your elbows directly below your shoulders, your palms flat on the floor, and your legs stretched out straight.
  • Engage your core, and while keeping your forearms and knees on the floor, slowly raise yourself upwards until your body is in a straight line from your head, all the way past your lower body, and to your heels.
  • Tuck your tailbone and engage your quads, butt, and core, and hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Relax, return to the starting position, and repeat.

Alternative version: For the High Plank version, let your weight rest on your open palms and hold your arms straight — Similar to a push-up position. Again, lift your body to form a straight line.

 

Beginners High Plank Exercise – Image from Shutterstock

 

While planks focus primarily on the core muscles in your abdominals and lower back, they also work on your chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, legs, and back.

However, the forearm plank position is more taxing on your core than the high plank version.

2. Mountain Climbers

While you’re face-down on the floor, you may as well do some mountain climbing.

 

Mountain Climbers Beginners Bodyweight Exercise – Image from Shutterstock

 

Here's how to do mountain climbers:

  • Place both hands, shoulder-width apart on the floor, in the High Plank stance, with your feet together.
  • Keeping your right foot on the floor, bend your left knee and bring it in towards your chest.
  • Extend your left leg and return to the starting position.
  • Then, with your left foot on the floor, bend your right knee as you bring it up to your chest.
  • Extend your right leg to return to the starting position.
  • Try speeding it up a bit to form a fluid climbing motion — inhaling for four climbers and exhaling for the next four.
  • Continue alternating between right and left for the specified number of repetitions.

Mountain Climbers are a great cardio exercise that activate your legs, arms, and shoulders to work your whole body. It will also improve your core strength and get your heart rate up.

3. Inchworm

If you do inchworms immediately after the mountain climbers, you’d likely want to rest for 30 to 60 seconds because this is also a high-energy exercise. These are great for improving mobility in beginners.

 Inchworm Beginners Bodyweight Exercise – Image from Shutterstock

 

Here's how to do inchworms:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your legs straight.
  • Bend at your hips, and, without bending your legs, place your hands, and palms open, on the floor as close to your feet as possible. (Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t get your hands directly in front of your feet from the start. As you progress over days or weeks, you’ll become more flexible).
  • Inhale deeply, and while resting on the balls of your feet, keep your legs straight and walk your hands forward to where your body forms a straight line from your heels to your head.
  • Exhale and walk back with your hands — all the while keeping your feet in position until you are back in the standing-up starting position.
  • Repeat for the specified number of repetitions.

The inchworm is a whole-body exercise that works your arms, legs, shoulders, and abs.

4. Glute Bridges

Now may be a good time to flip over on your back to work those glutes (aka Butt Muscles).

 Beginner Glute Bridge Exercise – Image from Shutterstock

 

Here's how to do glute bridges:

  • Lie flat on your back with bent knees and your feet firmly on a mat or floor, hip-width apart. Rest your arms by your side and ensure you hold your spine neutral (A spine held in a way that keeps its natural curves intact is neutral).
  • Inhale deeply and keep your core and glutes tight
  • Exhale and press your heels into the mat, activate your glutes, and raise your pelvis off the floor, resting your shoulders on the mat. Lift your butt until your body forms one straight line from your knees to your chin.
  • Inhale again, and lower your pelvis as you return to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the specified number of repetitions.

Glute bridges are a great exercise to start increasing glute and hamstring strength. As you progress with these you can rev it up a bit by putting a dumbbell or other weight across your hips.

5. Crunches

Stay on your back and challenge yourself to do some crunches. When you become confident with crunches, you can progress to full sit-ups where you lift your entire upper body up, rather than just your shoulders and upper back.

 Beginners Bodyweight Exercises Crunches – Image from Shutterstock

Here's how to do crunches:
  • Lie on your back and bend your knees as you did with the glute bridges.
  • Place your feet flat firmly on the mat, hip-width apart, and, hold your spine in a neutral position.
  • Place your hands, with interlaced fingers, behind your head.Rest your head into your hands and draw your shoulder blades back and down.
  • Inhale and set your T-zone (keep your core and glutes tight.)
  • Exhale and tuck your chin into your chest.
  • While keeping your feet firmly planted, draw your ribs toward your hips to lift your upper back, shoulder blades, and head off the mat, ensuring that you keep your core and glutes tight to prevent ‘doming’ your abdominals. (This will become easier as your abs become stronger).
  • Inhale as you lower your head and shoulders to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the specified number of repetitions

Crunches are a simple exercise that will train your abdominal muscles.

6. Deadbugs

The key to the deadbug exercise is ensuring your lower back remains fixed and your core is engaged throughout the movement to avoid injury.

 Deadbugs  Exercise – Image from Shutterstock

Here's how to do the deadbug:

  • Lie on your back on a mat with your arms extended directly up in front of your chest and your palms facing toward your feet. Bend your knees and bring both your legs up to form a 90-degree angle with your hips. Your knees must be in line with your hips. and your shins parallel to the floor.
  • Inhale and exhale before drawing your left arm back and down toward the floor, alongside your head. Simultaneously, and at the same speed as your arm movement, extend your right knee and hip to lower your right leg towards the floor. Ensure you maintain a neutral spine.
  • Inhale and return to the starting position.
  • Exhale and repeat the movement, this time using your right arm and your left leg. Once again, ensure that your arm and leg are lowering at the same speed and that you maintain a neutral spine.
  • Inhale and return to the starting position before alternating with the opposite arm and leg. Raise your right arm and left leg to return to the starting position. Continue alternating between left and right for the specified number of repetitions.

Deadbugs are a beneficial core exercise for beginners.

7. Bodyweight squats

Bodyweight squats are simple enough to do just about anywhere because you need no more than standing space.

 Bodyweight Squats – Image from Shutterstock

 

Here's how to do bodyweight squats: 

  • Stand on the floor with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Inhale while looking straight ahead. Bend at both the hips and knees, ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes and your back remains within a 45- to 90- degree angle to your hips.
  • Continue bending your knees until your upper legs are parallel to the floor, putting you in the perfect squat position.
  • Exhale and push through your heels and extend your legs to return to the starting position. Ensure you don’t lean forward with your upper body.
  • Repeat for the specified number of repetitions.

Bodyweight squats are excellent for beginners because they work on your glutes, hamstrings, core, and quads all at the same time.

8. Jump Squats

Jump squats are a variation of the normal bodyweight squat described above.

However, with the jump squats, you’ll use extra force to propel yourself into the air.

Beginners Jump Squats – Image from Shutterstock

Here's how to do jump squats: 

  • Stand on the floor with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Inhale while looking straight ahead. Bend at both the hips and knees, ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes and your back remains within a 45- to 90- degree angle to your hips.
  • Inhale and exhale and push through your heels and propel your body upwards into the air, extending both your knees and your hips.
  • Inhale and bend your hips and knees to land, returning to the starting position, ensuring that you maintain ‘soft’ knees to prevent injury.
  • Repeat for the specified number of repetitions.

The movement of the jump squats improves your power and significantly increases your heart rate when you perform several reps in succession.

9. Bodyweight walking lunges

You will need a little extra room to do bodyweight walking lunges as you will be walking forward several meters.

Beginner Walking Lunge – Image from Shutterstock

 

Here's how to do bodyweight walking lunges: 

  • Stand on the floor with your feet slightly further than shoulder-width apart, and place your hands on your hips.
  • Inhale and take a big step forward with your right foot. As you place your foot on the floor, bend both knees at approximately 90 degrees. This position is called a lunge position. To do this correctly, ensure your front knee is aligned with that leg’s ankle, and your back knee hovers just above floor level.
  • Exhale and push through the heel of your right foot and the toes of your left foot to extend both legs to come upright.
  • Inhale and transfer your weight onto your right foot and take a large step forward with your left foot. Bend your knees in the same way as before, putting you in a lunge position again, but with the other foot in front. By now you have taken two big steps forward, one with each foot leading.
  • Exhale and push through the heel of your left foot and the toes of your right foot to extend both legs.
  • Inhale, and transfer your weight onto your left foot to initiate the next big step forward in a lunge position.
  • Continue alternating between left and right for the specified number of repetitions.

Bodyweight walking lunges are great for improving leg strength, and they also increase balance and mobility.

10. Burpees

We left this one for last because you need the confidence you hopefully built up doing the other 9 bodyweight exercises for beginners to tackle this one.

 

Bodyweight Exercises Burpees – Image from Shutterstock

Even experienced exercisers sometimes cringe when burpees are part of their day’s workout routine.

Here's how to do burpees: 

  • Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • While keeping your spine in a neutral position, bend your hips and knees into a crouch-like position and place your hands on the floor on either side of your feet.
  • Inhale and jump both of your feet backward so that your legs are completely extended behind you and resting on the balls of your feet and your hands palms down directly underneath your shoulders. Your body should now form a straight line from your head to your heels.
  • Jump both of your feet forwards to land in between your hands, hinging at the hips, and once again, ensuring that your feet remain shoulder-width apart.
  • Exhale and propel your body upwards into the air with your arms above your head and your legs extended below you.
  • Inhale and land in the starting position, ensuring that you maintain ‘soft’ knees to prevent injury.
  • Repeat for the specified number of repetitions.

Burpees are an excellent full-body cardio exercise that will certainly get your heart pumping.

Conclusion

Take your time, be patient, and don’t overdo it to build strength quicker. Master the movements, and you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve without using anything besides your body weight. Your fitness level and existing muscle mass will play a part in your progress. You may want to consult a personal trainer to help you design a workout plan.

These are 10 of the best bodyweight exercises that beginners should master before progressing to more advanced exercises or lifting weights to build body strength.

The ability to move and control your own body weight is not only important for daily life but also as a foundation for all exercise and strength training you might move on to in the future.

Your diet plays a significant role in optimizing the benefits of your bodyweight exercises for beginners quest. Weight loss is a given if you also watch what you eat.

You might want to consider a healthy protein shake to pack on lean muscle and support strength levels, without unnecessary carbs.

Whey-PRO is a rapidly absorbing, pure whey protein isolate, loaded with micronutrient compounds to support you in reaching your goals; and always triple-filtered to ensure purity without gluten, lactose, fatty compounds, or any other impurities.